IS THE LEAST UNDERSTOOD PROGRAM OF THE USFWS?
to control injurious wildlife may be one of the least understood programs
of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Most people, including many ecologists,
do not know the definition of injurious wildlife or that a program designed
to protect us from their negative impacts even exists.
to Susan Jewell of USFWS, injurious wildlife, as defined under the Lacey
Act, includes wild mammals, wild birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes,
mollusks and crustaceans that are harmful to other wildlife or to humans
and human interests like agriculture and forestry.
calls the Lacey Act, passed in 1900, the first federal law protecting
wildlife. It prohibited importation of designated wildlife species
and was intended to prevent the spread of invasive, or non-native,
wildlife program under the Lacey Act excludes all plants, insects and
domestic animals, which eliminates numerous unequivocally detrimental
species. Nonetheless, plenty of wild species are around to be concerned
about. But sometimes government programs can be affected by special
commercial interests unwilling to relinquish authority and regulatory
control, so the effectiveness of a well-meaning program can be weakened.
intent of the injurious wildlife law was to prohibit the importation
of harmful species into the country. Snakehead fishes native to Asia
and Africa are among the species identified as injurious.
efforts are being made to keep certain Asian carp from entering and
becoming established in the Great Lakes ecosystem. The Great Lakes commercial,
recreational and tribal fisheries are collectively valued at more than
$7 billion annually. Injurious species could prove costly to the fisheries.
of the injurious wildlife program have been large constrictor snakes
from other countries, including invasive Burmese pythons, well known
for their predatory dominance in southern Florida.
provisions were that the snakes could no longer be imported into the
country or be transported across state lines. An individual violating
the injurious species Lacey Act regulations could be sentenced to six
months in jail and fined $5,000.
2016, USFWS listed 201 of the 681 species of salamanders worldwide as
injurious species. Why would a salamander be a threat to anyone or anything?
was to protect native salamander populations from ... a fungus
that is lethal to many salamander species.
for the fungus is Bsal, based on the long scientific name of a chytrid
fungus known from Europe, but that has not yet been found in U.S. salamanders.
was to keep Bsal out of the country or, if it gets introduced, to keep
it from being transported within the United States by people who keep
pet salamanders, by scientists who conduct research on them and by the
the injurious wildlife program is not well known, the public is unaware
of how critical the program is for protecting against potential invasive
species that are known to be detrimental to human interests and healthy
poorly understood program may also explain why lawmakers have not strengthened
or even effectively supported the injurious wildlife program.
government was unsuccessful in blocking efforts to overturn the regulation
that pythons and other large constrictors cannot be transported across
that a special interest groups challenge to a 2012 designation
that Burmese pythons and other large constrictor snakes be listed as
injurious wildlife was recently upheld, at least in part.
As a result,
the federal law cannot be interpreted as prohibiting pythons or other
wildlife on the injurious species list (including anacondas, Asian carp
or even zebra mussels) from being transported across state lines within
the continental United States.
the fate of our native salamanders, hopefully the listing of injurious
salamanders from around the world will keep the lethal Bsal fungus out
of the country so that transporting your pet salamander across state
lines wont be a concern.
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